THE Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has joined forces with Crown Sports Management for this year's staging of the highly anticipated Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic Men's NCAA basketball tournament, which is scheduled for the Montego Bay Convention from November 18-20.
The tournament, which features some of the top NCAA Division One Colleges from the United States, will be making its return to the island after a two-year hiatus due to the novel cornavirus pandemic.
The eight universities down to compete in the event are Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, LaSalle, Queens, University of Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Morgan State and Utah Valley.
The JTB has signed a five-year deal with Crown Sports Management to host the tournament through to 2026. The JTB will also be partnering with the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) as well as the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association for the event.
Director of tourism at the JTB, Donovan White said he is very delighted that the tournament will be making its return to the island because this is a great boost for sports tourism in Jamaica.
"It is good to have the tournament back," said White during Wednesday's media briefing which was held at the JTB's office in Kingston.
"It is a signal that things are and have returned to some level of normalcy in terms of recovery for COVID- 19 because the tournament was last staged in 2019, so to have it back in 2022 with eight top class teams from the NCAA is a phenomenal achievement, in our estimation," he said.
"However I think, more importantly, it is a long-term arrangement with us and the organisers that will allow for a lot of pre-planning for the next couple of years," White said.
He said the games will be broadcast live on CBS television in the United States while a broadcast partner in the region will be announced shortly.
As part of this year's festivities for the tournament there will be a high school three-on-three basketball competition which is scheduled for November 19.
"The inclusion of our high school students playing three-on-three basketball, which is now an Olympic sport, I think it is a good addition," White said. "We are hoping that we get the local corporate support that we are currently and actively seeking to make that aspect of the tournament extremely special, especially for these young men, and hopefully next year we will be able to add the young ladies as well," he said.
JaBA's President Paulton Gordon believes this is an excellent move by the organisers to stage this three-on-three event during the tournament because the Jamaican high school players will have the opportunity to display their skills in front of overseas coaches.
"I am quite happy that it is back because, as you know, it has been two years that has been off due to the [novel coronavirus] pandemic," said Gordon.
"It is a good addition to the basketball landscape. It exposes the youngsters to what is happening at that level and they can actually visualise and see what was there, and they will have something to aspire to — and the coaches from overseas will be there to watch them in this competition," he said.